Media Moves

NYT hires two reporters for biz news desk

October 29, 2010

TALKING BIZ NEWS EXCLUSIVE

New York Times business editor Larry Ingrassia and Dealbook blog editor Andrew Ross Sorkin sent out the following announcement to the staff on Friday afternoon:

We are please to announce that two more reporters – Azam Ahmed from the Chicago Tribune and Ben Protess from the Huffington Post Investigative Fund – will join the DealBook team and Business Day.

Azam and Ben will add to our growing roster at DealBook, and to the talented team that we already have covering finance, giving The Times greater breadth and depth of coverage for our readers on Wall Street and Main Street.

Azam has worked at the Tribune since 2006, where he most recently has covered education. His reporting on the local schools gained national attention (how the administration of Arne Duncan oversaw a pipeline for the well-connected to seek favored school placement) and helped prompt reversals in policy (over the reorientation of magnet schools away from integration). But his reporting has ranged across a variety of topics. Early in the financial crisis, he used a tour on the courthouse beat to report on the impact foreclosures were already having on the courts and the city. And he turned street reporting in some of Chicago’s tougher neighborhoods into compelling pieces on young people facing urban dangers and temptations.

Not that Azam is a novice in finance: he spent a year reporting on currencies for Dow Jones Newswires. And he has shown himself to be a quick learner and dogged reporter, able to dig through documents and cultivate sources.

Like many good reporters, Azam has many interests: He is finishing a documentary about Chicago youth who use skateboarding as a way to escape gang violence. During college at the University of Virginia (where he earned a degree in economics and English), he worked as a chef and spent a few summers working in abandoned textile mills as a rigger taking down old German looms to ship off to China. He was an Eagle Scout and a boxer, finishing second in the Virginia Golden Glove Championships (165 pound division) in 2002.  He will start on Nov. 3.

Ben Protess has worked for the past year at the nonprofit Huffington Post Investigative Fund, where he has been a business reporter based in Washington. He previously worked as a reporter at ProPublica on a year-long fellowship, as a reporter at a neighborhood newspaper in Chicago and as a news desk assistant at the CBS News affiliate in Chicago.

A colleague summed up what we like best about Ben, noting that he is an “eager young reporter who is comfortable in the digital age and who still holds on to old-fashioned journalism values.”

For the Huff Post Investigative Fund, Ben has covered the financial crisis and subsequent regulatory reform proposals in Congress. He has also tackled the causes and consequences of the crisis, paying particular attention to A.I.G. and the credit rating agencies; he won a Sigma Delta Chi award for a five-part series on the agencies’ close ties to key Democratic lawmakers and investment banks. He also has examined regulatory lapses at the Securities and Exchange Commission, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s political ties and secret deals between colleges and credit card companies.

Ben was born and raised in the Chicago suburbs in a family of journalists and is a loyal (yet obviously frustrated) Cubs fan. He graduated with honors from Northwestern — in social policy, not journalism — before going on to Columbia for a master’s in journalism. He got married just this month and moved to New York, where his wife is a lawyer.  He will join us on Nov. 17.

Please join us in welcoming Azam and Ben to The Times, Business Day and DealBook.

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